Official Government Communication

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my email newsletter. There is a lot happening at the State Capitol and it is my hope that this email will help you stay in touch with your government. As your Senator, I truly believe in public service. If there is anything my office can do to assist you, please feel free to contact us.

 

Here to serve,

      

Sen. Lena Taylor

4th District

 

Why I Celebrate Juneteenth

June 19, 1865, is known as "Emancipation" or "Freedom" Day for African-Americans. This was the day that the remaining enslaved Africans, being held in the United States finally received word that they had been set free. More than two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation Order, which took effect in 1863, June 19th, became known as "Juneteenth". Recognized as the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery, I co-authored and passed legislation in 2009 making Juneteenth Day a legal, official holiday in Wisconsin. It is also why I offered a resolution this year to officially make June 19th "Juneteenth Day".


The day, for me, serves as a reminder of the constant fight for basic human rights. It has been and continues to be a struggle to attain equity and inclusion, for all people. While there are many victories, such as the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Brown v. Board of Education, Civil Right Act, the Fair housing movements, we know that we are faced with renewed efforts to suppress the full participation of every citizen in our democracy. There are efforts by some, to actually roll back the clock on voting equality, which is designed to negatively impact the voter participation of African-Americans and minority groups, as well as lower-income, and elderly populations. Though these actions are currently being challenged in the courts, we must remember that freedom isn't free. It requires constant vigilance and work to ensure its protection. Therefore, it was great to see that so many people continue to value the importance of celebrating Juneteenth. I thank the organizers, businesses and organizations, elected officials, and most importantly, community members who continue to make Milwaukee a national leader in observing this historic annual event.

 

Officer Involved Deaths


This week, many have watched the trial of Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is currently on trial for reckless homicide, in the shooting death of Sylville Smith. As the jury now deliberates the fate of Officer Heaggan-Brown, many are reminded of the civil unrest that resulted, in the Sherman Park neighborhood, immediately after Smith's death. Whatever the outcome, as legislators, we can certainly work to help create transparency and rebuild trust between the community and our police departments.


To that end, I previously authored and passed legislation requiring investigations of officer-involved deaths to be conducted by an independent law enforcement agency as well as legislation that expanded requirements for police training and increased accountability for officers making an arrest. In addition, I am releasing a package of legislative bills aimed at overall gun safety and responsibility. Creating an environment where both policing and public safety are priorities is incredibly important to me. As legislators, we have the ability to enact policies that will assist in creating safer working conditions for police officers and the communities they serve.

 

Supreme Court Will Hear Case on WI Redistricting

Wisconsin is under the national spotlight with Monday's announcement that the U. S. Supreme Court will hear the case of the unconstitutionally skewed district lines in Wisconsin, that heavily favor the Republican party. The methods in which legislative and congressional lines are drawn have long been contentious partisan fights. The implications of these district maps impact control of state governments and the Congress.

 
Each state is required to redraw their legislative and congressional maps every 10 years. Those lines were last drawn in 2011 in Wisconsin, when Republicans had a majority in the Senate, the Assembly, as well as controlling the Governorís office. It became clear that my Republican colleagues used their power to draw district voting maps that would help them in getting elected. The effect is to create districts that diminish the voting power of typically minority, low-income, student, and elderly voters. The aftermath of the unfairly drawn district lines resulted in the 2012 races saw Republicans win 60 of 99 seats in the Wisconsin Assembly, even though Democrats actually got more votes. To be more specific, Republicans won only 48.6% of the votes. Sadly, this issue isn't unique to Wisconsin and the court's ruling will have national implications. Some states have taken their own steps to remove "politics" or partisanship from the process of drawing voting maps. It's a shame that Wisconsin has become the poster child for unfair play in protecting the constitutional voting rights of its citizens.

 

More Accountability for Choice and Power for DPI

On Wednesday, the Assembly passed a bill that went through the Senate last week. The bill provides more power to DPI to hold private schools who accept state vouchers accountable. Yesterday, State Superintendent Tony Evers called on Governor Walker to sign Senate bill 293, which is a product of months of collaborative and negotiated work between DPI and Wisconsin School Choice. Creating the 30 points in this bill was no easy feat as the organizations have been in contention for nearly thirty years. I have fought long and hard for needed background checks and school closure procedures to better regulate schools.

 

 

Assault Weapons Ban Added to Gun Safety Package

I have been circulating a gun safety package of legislative bills aimed at bringing common sense policies to firearm ownership and use. With the recent public outcry surrounding the proposed legislation SB169, a bill that would allow any citizen to conceal carry a gun without a permit or any form of training, it is imperative that take deliberate steps to ensure public safety, while protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of our citizens. Over the years I have taken legislative votes to affirm my belief in the right to bear arms. But I also believe that the right comes with responsibilities and should have some checks and balances to ensure that guns donít get into the wrong hands.


I have also been concerned about the type of military grade weapons that are showing up in the hands of private, civilian hands. Much like police departments acquiring surplus military gear and equipment, this type of artillery clearly alters the engagement style of owners and users of this type of weaponry. That is why this week, I added a ban on assault weapons to my gun safety package. Because although the 2nd Amendment protects the right to gun ownership, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that right, the court has also not barred reasonable gun control measures. The founding fathers hadn't foreseen the destructive capabilities of much of the military grade firearms. However, in looking at the Orlando, Florida 2016 mass shooting, that left 49 people dead, we know all too well the massive damage that can be done by these assault weapons in a scant amount of time. Not all weapon types must be considered suitable for private hands.

 

 

 

Quote of the Week::

"The 19th of June has historically come to represent an opportunity for all Americans to remember the importance of racial healing, reconciliation, and justice."

-Senator Lena C. Taylor on Juneteenth Day

This is an official government communication from Sen. Lena C. Taylor. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here to send me an email to unsubscribe.

 

Events & Opportunities

 

SUMMERFEST

 

Enjoy Wisconsin's biggest music fest starting on June 28th on the SummerFest grounds next to Lake Michigan. Find more info here.

 

 

***

 

All White Affair 2017

This event will be held at he Harley Davidson Museum and will be a night of food and dance on July 1st for $25 a person to benefit scholarships for MPS students. Find more info here.

 

***

 

Zip MKE

Celebrate what makes Milwaukee such a beautiful city at 2320 N. Cramer St. in East Branch with a photography exhibit that will be open through June 30th. Find more info here.

 

***

 

Black Cinema Film Series

Free screenings of award-winning documentaries that highlight African-American history and achievements will be shown at the Milwaukee Public Library on N. Sherman Blvd on June 27th. Each film will be followed by an open discussion. Find more information here.

 

***

 

U.S. Citizenship Classes

Free citizenship classes will be presented in Spanish and English on July 1st at the Milwaukee Public Library on W. Forest Home Ave. More information and dates can be found here.

 

***

 

Under the Dome Updates

Sign up for a weekly update about activities happening at the State Capitol. Get updates on your legislative officials, committees, and issues that are important to you.

Find more info here.

 

 

Stay in touch:

     Email: Sen.Taylor@legis.wi.gov

    Milwaukee:  414-342-7176

    Madison:     608-266-5810